Season 5 of the SMITE Pro League will be exclusively broadcast on Mixer, Mixer and Hi-Rez announced today.
The announcement comes at a poor time: pro gaming spectators have been historically unreceptive to streaming platforms that are not Twitch. ESL, the world’s largest esports company, received immense backlash for signing an exclusivity deal with Facebook in January. Hi-Rez has already walked these roads too; last year, Paladins fans were unhappy with Hi-Rez’s partnership with Facebook and later Mixer.
Like the Amazon-owned Twitch, Mixer is backed by big money. The relatively new platform, which was formerly known as Beam before rebranding as Mixer, is owned by Microsoft. Microsoft has pushed hard for the platform, integrating it into the Xbox One dashboard and routinely adding new features.
Some of these features will be put to use in the new SMITE partnership, and SPL broadcasts will “implement Mixer’s unique co-streaming technology to bring fans more camera angles, perspectives and views.” SMITE spectators will be able to choose “supplemental feeds that enhance the main broadcast.” Dedicated SPL watchers have been asking for more third-person shots and better camera angles during competitive broadcasts for years, so perhaps Mixer has a shot at changing fans’ minds.
With esports on the rise, spectators may have to deal with these exclusivity deals becoming the norm. When ESL announced their Facebook deal, fans and personalities were disappointed but also quick to point out the reality that these deals are common in traditional sports.
“I’m not happy about it, but I feel obligated to point out that broadcast rights are THE largest source of economic rents for nearly EVERY professional or major competitive sports league around the world,” tweeted esports personality Nahaz, who is well-known in the Dota 2 scene for his statistics analysis. “Esports is not different just ‘because we’re esports’.”
The SMITE Console Series starts on March 5 on Mixer, and the SPL starts on March 20, so players will have to wait until then to see Mixer and Hi-Rez’s partnership come to fruition.Follow @SMITEScrub